Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Too Can Have Cathy WIlliams' New Chicken Wallet

Cathy Williams asked me to make a chicken wallet in a newish design that we at Piece Work call a Baby Shara (because it's a smaller version of our Shara wallet, which is named after the customer who requested the custom design that lead us to make  our most popular line of wallets).  Anyway, today I fb'ed Cathy that her wallet was done, and she suggested I post it in case other chicken lovers out there might like to have one of these as a holiday gift.

  You can order a chicken Baby Shara here on our blog.  But order right away, as our list of orders to fill in the next three weeks is getting rather alarmingly long!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Travel Wallet Designed by a Traveler

My friend Norma Hawthorne travels frequently to Oaxaca, Mexico, where she directs a travel and learn program (oaxacaculture.com). The other night she and some other friends were in town, and as we sat talking over dinner Norma asked me if we could design a case for her to conveniently carry her passport.  She got her idea from looking at the small Shara that I was carrying.  We threw ideas back and forth for a while-- she needed something BRIGHT and easy to spot, light enough to hang around her neck, easy to open, and easy to remove the passport from for stamping.  The case shown above is what we came up with.  I love it and plan to make one for myself as soon as possible.

The case opens like a Shara, only instead of a button and elastic closing it has a small strip of velcro in order for everything to be as flat and light as possible.  I had a lime-green bag from fish food, thanks to some pond-owning friends, and best of all the print on the bag was in Spanish!  So the case is slick and light and bright and filled with little fishy images and interesting text.  We adapted a neck strap design by combining our small bag strap and our wallet elastic closing.  The back cover of the passport slides right in to the right side inside flap of the case, making it easy to flip the passport open if it only needs to be shown.  When it needs stamping, it can easily be removed from the flap.  The flap on the inside left can be left empty for extra lightness, but it could also be used for boarding passes, a stick of gum, or a little piece of paper with a calming mantra written on it for airport trials and tribulations.

These babies aren't in our catalog yet, but if you want us to make one for you, email us at weRpiecework@gmail.com with your needs and ideas.  Passport cases cost the same as Sharas-- $18 including postage and handling.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Notebook Wallets are now Officially HERE!

A few months ago a friend asked me to make her a Shara wallet that could be used as a notebook or journal cover.  She wanted a coin purse on the back flap, and enough space in the spine of the cover to fit a journal that was about 3/4" thick.  I made the cover for her, and then she made a small Coptic bound book using pieces of recycled cereal box for the front and back covers, which she slipped into the flaps.  Another friend saw her book and asked me if I could make one for her, only she wanted me to sew in the pages, to make a permanent book rather than a book cover.  No problem.  And I liked the way that one looked so much that I made one for myself.

Then when I was in New Hampshire last month visiting my son and his family, he asked me to make a notebook for him to keep notes about his chickens.  Naturally he wanted it made out of a Purina chicken feed bag.  So now we've decided to start carrying these handy notebooks for you to order.

Here are the features from which you may choose:  either a book cover or a book;  whatever size you would like-- just tell us length, width, and spine thickness;  a coin purse or not;  a credit card case or not;   and your choice of color, material, etc.  You should also specify what kind of paper you want in your notebook:  regular writing paper (with or without lines), drawing paper, lightweight watercolor sketching paper, colored paper.  If you have a certain kind of paper that you love, tell us what it is and we'll try to find it for you.  You can also mix and match paper-- some drawing paper, some lined writing paper, even some tracing paper.

If you order a book cover, the cost is $15 plus $3 shipping and handling.  If you want us to make the book sewn into the cover, we will have to add the cost of paper.  Unless it's a very expensive paper, the price of the book will range between $ 20 and $30.  We think the best way to handle these orders is via email, at least for now.  It may turn out that people are pretty standard in their wishes for these books and book-wallet hybrids.  In that case we'll make a catalog page for books.  So let us know if we can make a wallet-book or a book cover or a book for you.  Email us at weRpiecework@gmail.com with your specs. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hen and Chicks in the Garden

We've been making lots and lots of Baby Sharas with chicken themes lately.  For some reason the pink and orange chicken one has rocketed to peak popularity,  with the blue chicken Baby Shara in close second place. 

We just shipped off a box of wallets & things to the new museum shop at the South Bend Art Museum in South Bend, Indiana!  So if you're in the South Bend area, be sure to check out the museum and stop by the gift shop to see Piece Works in person and choose your OWN favorite!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is There ANYTHING We won't do for Our Customers??

The other day I was delivering some wallets to some people who work at our local bagel store.  While I was there, another worker asked me if we had any wallets with owls on them.  I told her I would check, but I had severe doubts.  I went into a nearby grocery later that day (since a check of our materials depot had made it clear that owls are scarce on pet food and potato chip and coffee bags)  hoping to find some new brand of something that would be a good material.  As I rounded a corner near the produce section, there was a display of wine, and to my great excitement the label had a fine woodcut of an owl on it!  I made the sacrifice of buying not one but two bottles (labels can be really hard to remove, and I didn't want to have only one to try with).  That night my husband and I enjoyed the pinot grigio while I finessed the label off using Citrisolve.  It took almost half a bottle of wine to finally get the label off!

I brought the label to the bagel place the next day; Amanda, the worker, liked it and said she would like me to use both labels, one on the front and one on the back (shown here), AND she wanted fuschia to be the featured color.

Well, fuschia is a color that just doesn't show up very much in our materials, but we did find some on an otherwise red bag of dog food, so we trimmed it out in as much fuschia as we could glean from the red bags we had on hand.  Whew!  Good thing we had another bottle of the pinot to ease the process!

The moral of the story is:  even if you think your wallet idea is crazy impossible, tell it to us, and we WILL figure out a way to make it a reality!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A NEW Smaller Big Wallet!

We love our Sharas and Shara's Moms so much that when a friend asked if we could make one for her that would fit into her new smallish bag, we decided to have a go at it.  The result:  a Shara that measures only a little bigger than a 3 x 5" index card -- 5 1/2 x 3 1/4"-ish to be more exact-- and yet it holds as much as a standard Shara.  It's small enough to slip into some side pockets, easy to carry in most bags, and all without sacrificing much in carrying capacity.  (There ARE some situations in which you would do better with a standard Shara or Shara's Mom, such as if you regularly carry lots of bills or change or dozens of pictures or really love a ten-slot credit card case; so these baby Sharas are NOT replacing our wonderful regular Sharas and Shara's Moms.)
The view above shows an opened Baby Shara.  The credit card case in this one is made of clear material and has five slots.  The coin purse is large, and we've designed pleated sides to make it easier to get into.  There are bill fold pockets directly under the coin purse as well as under each side flap.

The view below shows two more possibilities for these wallets.

And the very bottom image  shows the inside of the cat wallet in the first image.  It has a Kettle material credit card slot.

 Order your Baby Shara on the Big Wallets page.  The price is the same as a regular Shara because it takes us just as long to make a little Shara as a big one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Look for Piece Work Wallets & Things

We hope you enjoy our new look and that it makes it easier for you to find your way around our blog and discover exactly what you're looking for.  As we develop new designs and different ways to use our materials, we're moving toward sorting our things by style rather than by material.  Our catalog pages are still basically the same (although we've edited the titles to better reflect the new design-based categories), but soon we will be combining all the standard wallets onto one page instead of breaking them down into the four materials categories that we have them in now.  And the step after that will be to make it possible for you to click on the categories right under the masthead in order to get to the catalog page you want. 

We also have a few new designs in the works-- one that's a small version of our big Shara wallets,  one that is a sleeked-down version of our standard wallet,  one that's a re-thinking of the Ultra Slim, and one that's a slightly larger version of the already big Shara.  As always, these designs are driven by what YOU tell us you want.  We really enjoy designing and finding ways of using new materials.  So keep your ideas coming!  And please let us know how your wallets and things are working for you and what we can do to make them better.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Consider a Business Checkbook!

Our friends Sarah and Shara have a small business called Haven & Hill.  They concoct and sell yummy bath and body products.  Recently when I was in New Hampshire visiting with them, they said they needed a checkbook cover for their business account.  They had given me some samples of their soaps and bath bombs and creams, so I peeled a label from one and incorporated it in this checkbook cover.  The background is from a chicken feed bag that has a sophisticated color scheme and lovely graphic of a farm scene, which reminded me of the rural area where Sarah and Shara both live.

You'll notice that the checkbook cover is being elegantly and professionally held by a super lovely and pale hand that has long fingernails.  I found this mannequin hand in my travels through the garment district in NYC with friends recently.  It seems to say "This is an elegant  business checkbook cover, even if it's made out of a chicken feed bag."

(Note to Sarah and Shara:  I'm putting your checkbook cover in the mail tomorrow.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My friend Pat threw down a challenge the other day.  She said "Make a completely clear wallet!"  We speculated about how much fun it would be to carry a wallet whose insides were on the outside.  When you get pulled over for that little speeding infraction, no need to fumble around hunting for your driver's license-- just hold up your CLEAR wallet.  Add your own color and text depending on what you carry around.  Always know in an instant exactly how many quarters you have for parking meters.  The benefits are endless!

In the top photo you see a fully-loaded CLEAR.  You can feature a favorite photo or business card, sort of like choosing wallpaper for your phone screen.  Notice that there are small bits of text showing on the clear surface.  We made this wallet out of some heavy, clear plastic cases that a new pillow and some sheets came in.  The manufacturer had carefully printed various warnings on the plastic, so we included them when we cut out the material.  Don't want any of you confusing your wallet for a toy and putting it over your nose and mouth!  One of the sheet cases had the word "FULL" on clear tape, so we had to include that too, since your wallet will usually be full when you use it and it's good to have that cleared up right away.

The third shot shows how fine your coins and bills and credit cards look under shiny plastic.

And this final shot of the empty but opened wallet highlights the warning and also shows the many nooks and crannies into which you can not hide but reveal your wallet contents.

We've named this wallet the Patricia after my genius friend who issued the challenge.  You can have your own by ordering whichever wallet you want on a catalog page and specifying CLEAR in the notes.  Prices are the same for CLEAR as for regular wallets.  Any and all of our models can be made CLEAR!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another New Design

We had an email from Shara Buffington's Mom Susan the other day asking if we could make her a large Shara wallet, only there were a few changes that she thought would make the wallet work better for her.  She liked the size of the Shara and she liked the ten credit card slots, but she wanted two compartments, one on the outside and one on the inside, to hold photographs of her grandchildren.  She referred to these new compartments as coin purses, so we simply sized up our standard coin purse so that it would fit on the outside and inside of the left-hand flap.  It took a little playing around and a few false starts, but the final wallet came out so well that we've decided to carry it as another choice in our Big Wallets category. 

The day I was walking around thinking about this new design, I met up with  a friend who handed me a bird seed bag and asked me to make a Shara out of it for her.  I mentioned that I was concocting a new version of the Shara, and she liked the sound of it so much that she asked me to make one of those for her.  So look below to see photographs of Shara's Mom Susan's Shara's Mom as well as Laurie's Shara's Mom!  (You can custom order your own Shara's Mom on the Big Wallets catalog page.  And remember, everything is on sale until June 21!)
The original Shara's Mom is on the left, and Laurie's Shara's Mom is on the right.

This is the inside of Shara's Mom's Shara's Mom showing a big coin purse on the left and credit card case on the right (and bill folds under each of these).

This is the outside of Laurie's Shara's Mom, showing one of the coin purses on the front (right side).

And this is the outside of Shara's Mom's Shara's Mom.  The lighthouse, which Susan requested, came from a bag of Cape Cod potato chips.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Recycle a Recycled Wallet

If your wallet is getting a little scuffed and worn,  or if you're just getting a little bored and are longing for a change, consider recycling your wallet and treating yourself to a bright new spring one!  To help you do that, we're running a SPRING SALE until the summer solstice-- June 21.  Here's the deal:  between now and the official end of spring, we'll send you $3 back on every wallet or bag that you order through this blog and $2 back on every Ultra -Slim or checkbook cover.  Place your order as usual, and when we ship it to you, we'll tuck your rebate into your wallet or bag or checkbook cover. 

Now for the big question-- what do you do with your recycled wallet when you want to retire it from its active life as a wallet but it still has some life left in it?  Here are a few ideas: 

1.  Make a planter out of it (see the illustration above)
2.  Open it out flat, cut a small X in the center and a slit leading from the center of one side to the X;  then slip it around the stem of a newly-planted tomato plant to protect it from cutworms and as a mulch.
3.  Open it out flat, fold it in thirds, and use the resulting skinny rectangle to cushion a branch of a tree or bush  that you need to tie up.
4.  Fold it like a small tent, push the tent up against a brick or a piece of garden edging stone, and you have a fine toad house for one of the most useful garden predators around.
5.  Open it out so its bright colors show, and hang it in your garden as a scarecrow.
6.  Cut it as described in #2, only slip it around the trunk of a blueberry bush as a permanent mulch.
7.  Open it out and fill it with potting soil as in the illustration, and use to to start seedlings indoors.
8.  Use it to store seeds as you collect them.  Put the seeds into small folds of paper, label them, and tuck them into the various pockets and slots of your old wallet for safekeeping over the winter.

These are just some off-the-top-of-our-heads ideas.  If you think of others, send them to us in comments, and we'll send a FREE wallet or bag or checkbook cover to the people who send us our five favorite ideas that we get before June 21!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting Lighter and Lighter

Lightening up as the weather grows warmer means lighter clothes, lighter shoes, and certainly lighter bags.  Shortly after I can't stand the thought of socks, I can't stand the thought of lugging a heavy bag either!  Piece Work has a solution:  this summer, instead of carrying everything with you all of the time, do spring cleaning of your bag, and transfer the essential items to one of our small shoulder bags.  And then, to make things even lighter, transfer the most essential of the essential to one of our Ultra Slims.  This way, when you leave the house, you can put the Ultra-Slim with your driver's license, a couple of credit cards, and a few bills plus your gym card inside your small bag (which might also be holding your phone, keys, and a pen a stick of gum).  Then when you get to the gym or the park where you plan to take a walk, slip just the Ultra Slim in your pocket and hide the bag with your other things in your car.

To encourage you to try our Light Combo, if you order a Small Shoulder Bag and an Ultra Slim, we'll slip a $3 refund into the pocket of the Ultra Slim, put the Ultra Slim inside the Small Bag, and ship the two to you in one light package.  This offer is  good for spring cleaning time only, March 20 - June 21.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Since making our abstract black/white/gray small shoulder bags for Laura in Brooklyn, we've been on a kick of making abstract mostly-black wallets.  We love the way the most prosaic and uninteresting copy ("Tarter Control for Senior Dogs" or "Salt and Black Pepper"), when cut into unreadable pieces turns into great abstract design motifs.  A sort of zooming in on the fontness of the text.

The three wallets here are all currently available, but we predict they won't be around for long!  You can order them on any wallet page, but specify "black" as the color and write us a note on the Paypal page or an email to our gmail account saying your first, second, and third choices among the three.  We are also happy to custom design an abstract wallet (or any wallet) for you if you email us describing what you want.  Some people even mail us bags that they want us to use.  If you want to do that, email us, and we'll send you our shipping address.  We hope you love the fonts as much as we do!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Old Coin Purses

This past weekend we were poking around in our favorite antique/junk place lookng for old buttons, when we came across a framed collection of old coin purses.  Down on the floor in a dark corner, I spied a large frame, about 2 inches thick, in which a dozen little purses and bags were pressed between the glass and an ancient sheet of foam rubber.  The coin purses ranged from a very fancy silky bag with embroidery on it to a rough little sack that looked like it would have been used to carry marbles to--my favorite-- a premium coin purse from the First Farmers' Bank.  Some of the purses were no more than 1 1/2 inches wide and high;  several had very clever triple clasps so that the purse could snap open on two sides.  I didn't have enough money to buy the collection, but I did have my sketchbook.  Pictured here are a few of the purses.  I plan on going back this weekend and drawing the rest!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Three Little Black Bags Go to the City!

Well, two of them are black, but the third one is just as sophisticated because it's made out of an Urban Outfitter's shopping bag and has a genuine dogtag chain for a strap!  The black bags are made from an onion bag (on the left) and a Kettle bag (on the right).  We designed these for Laura Oltman, who lives in Brooklyn, and manages a small clothing shop in Park Slope.  She wanted a small shoulder bag, in black with abstract designs, to wear with summer dresses.

Even though we're currently deep in the frozen belly of winter, it's nice to think of Laura walking down 7th Avenue wearing her black bag with a breezy summery dress.  We love these bags so much, and we think it's amazing how sophisticated and big city our humble materials look!  You can order your own on the Small Shoulder Bags page.  Specify black and either Kettle or onion bag material.  (Black onion bags are getting extremely rare, but we'll do our best.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exciting New/Used Materials!

To the left is our standard wallet made of a new silky smooth but very strong Asian pear (or apple, banana, or pineapple or mango!) material from a bag of dried fruit chips from a grocery store in Asheville.  The colors and design are spectacularly beautiful. 

Below the pear wallet is one made from a Kettle's new Tias corn chips bag-- great intensity of color with the strong blue shown here as well as a fine burnt orange.

You can order these wallets in the Kettle and King Arthur section, which we are going to rename Food Bags (as distinguished from Feed Bags) since we're carrying additional kinds of food packaging material now.

We have friends in Michigan and New Hampshire as well as Asheville who have been sending us some lovely horse feed bags.  If you're a horse-lover, this is a great fun wallet to carry.  You can order horse wallets from the Feed Bags catalog page.  We have lilac, light green, and pink as the dominant bag colors in addition to the colors shown here.

Coffee bags smell wonderful in addition to being strong, colorful, and graphically interesting.  We made these two checkbook covers for some friends out of their favorite coffee bags.  We had never done so much piecing of material before, but the small size of the bags made it necessary, and we love the quilted effect that resulted.  So we're adding coffee bag material to our checkbook, standard, Shara, grab 'n' go, and ultra slim wallet possibilities. 

Coffee bag material is a heavy film in most cases.  If you have a favorite bag, send us a few and we'll make up whatever you want out of it.  If you only have one, we can still do the job but will have to piece it out with material we have on hand.  if you want it made from your coffee bags only, send us at least three bags.
Our final new material this time is a gorgeous new bird seed bag from an Asheville friend.  We've used it here to make our new BIG wallet, called the Shara after the friend who asked us to design it based on a large leather wallet that she had.  The Shara has ten credit card slots inside, two billfold cases, a coin purse, and a small notebook.  You can order your own Shara on the NEW Big Wallets catalog page.  (This is the same wallet we featured a few posts back, so scroll back until you come to the painted version, which also shows the inside.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wallets as Piggy Banks-- the Hardest Working Wallets of All!

During the month that Piece Work's studio has been closed for the holidays, I've been traveling around the northeast visiting family.  As usual, I was curious about the state of any wallets we had planted there.  Last spring when I was in New Hampshire, two of my little grandsons had wanted me to make wallets for them.  This was nine months ago, and theirs is a very active and relaxed household, so I was stunned to learn that they still had both wallets in their possession, and that, amazingly, both kids knew exactly where they were!

These wallets were definitely cases of field surgery, so I was really surprised to see that they looked about the same after nine months of very hard use.  I had had no sewing machine or patterns or anything else I usually use to make a wallet.  The kids had wanted Kettle wallets just like one I was carrying at the time.  So we went to the co-op and bought two bags of blue-flavored Kettle chips.  I approximated a pattern and used dental floss to sew the wallets.  The boys both wanted small notebooks but no coin purses or credit card cases.

You can imagine my surprise the other day when six-year-old Luca showed me his wallet, which had no closing elastic or button (his choice) but was somehow managing to carry about ten dollars in coins (I think gravity was holding it together) and a gift card for a bookstore.  Then eight-year-old Tallis brought his wallet in.  He had asked for a button and tie, which we had made out of some yarn, and his wallet still looked pristine and new.  Inside he had his life savings-- $25 in one-dollar bills.  He also had a gift card tucked away.  When we went to Borders' to cash in the gift cards, the boys lugged their wallets and pulled them out to pay, augmenting the gift cards with cash from their wallet-banks.